Modernising education via foreign capital

09:00 | 20/11/2018
Attracting foreign investment into the education and training sector has garnered special attention from the Vietnamese government over the past few of years. In fact, the number of foreign-invested projects in this sector has been increasing steadily in recent years. Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Van Phuc shared with VIR the latest movements in foreign investment attraction in education, the current landscape, and coming measures to boost the sector’s development in the years ahead.
modernising education via foreign capital
Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Van Phuc

Five years since the ­enforcement of government Decree No.73/2012/ND-CP dated September 26, 2012 regulating foreign investment co-operation and investment in the field of education came into force, the number of foreign investment projects in education has more than tripled from 111 in 2012 to 374 as of December 12, 2017.

Licensed foreign investment projects in education in Vietnam are mainly located in centrally-governed cities and provinces which are investment hotspots, such as Binh Duong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Khanh Hoa.

Currently, nearly 20,000 kids and pupils are enrolled at diverse foreign-invested education facilities from the preschool to the high school level, and about 8,000 students are enrolled at foreign-backed universities in Vietnam.

There are 28 training units at preschool grade, 29 units in the all-through format from preschool to high school level, and five units offering higher education, besides about 300 units training professional, informatics, and foreign language skills.

Foreign-backed training units have contributed to improving the foreign language and professional skills of Vietnamese students, labourers, and business people, creating a conducive learning environment for the offspring of foreigners working in Vietnam and overseas Vietnamese returning to work or do business – and pushing up foreign investment flows in Vietnam.

In addition, foreign investment in education has also taken hold in the form of joint training between foreign and domestic units. As of December 31, 2017 there were 340 co-operative and joint training programmes in Vietnam between 85 domestic and as many as 258 foreign higher education units from 33 countries and territories.

Joint training programmes have recruited a total 86,000 students, 48,000 of whom have finished study (including 18,000 trainees with higher education, 28,000 master’s degree holders, 60 doctorate degree holders, and 1,900 trainees of other levels).

Foreign investment in the joint training format has partly satisfied the learning requirements of the society, playing a hand in bettering human resources quality to serve the country’s industrialisation and modernisation cause, and helping to reduce the “brain drain” and “capital drain” as more Vietnamese students opt to stay in the country for further study.

In fact, Vietnam has enormous demand for quality foreign education facilities. Accordingly, about 160,000 Vietnamese citizens have gone abroad for higher education, thanks to the state policy encouraging such endeavours.

To solicit foreign investment into education, Vietnam has been giving out investment incentives to qualified projects. In light of the Vietnamese government’s Decree No.118/2015/ND-CP detailing the implementation of the Law on Investment, investment projects in education are entitled to a number of tax and land incentives. Notably, the Vietnamese government has recently enacted Decree No. 86/2018/ND-CP dated June 6, 2018 to supersede Decree 73 which features new, more open procedures to help the country attract more foreign investment in education.

Despite posting certain achievements thus far, the number of foreign investment projects in education, however, is modest as investment promotion activities have been lacklustre and unfocused at both the central and local levels. In this context, the recent enactment of Decree 86 to replace Decree 73 was considered a breakthrough helping to attract more robust investment into education as it contains more open procedures towards foreign investors.

Accordingly, for the first time, co-operation with foreign investors is permitted at all levels of education, including preliminary schools, secondary schools, and high schools. Decree 73, only permitted co-operation for university education.

As for investment procedures, Decree 86 seeks to

remarkably simplify administrative procedures applied to foreign investors in education, such as shortening the procedures to establish short-term foreign-backed training centres from three steps to two (removing the need for establishment permission), allowing foreign-backed training units to lease infrastructure for the long-term and mobilise diverse resources for development, and more.

In addition, the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) has also made efforts to review and amend investment incentive policies and the priority investment wish-list in education as well as crafted a specific mechanism to encourage the operations of non-profit foreign-invested training units.

The MoET also committed to better the investment and business climate, expediting policy dialogues with investors and companies through the Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) platform and being resolute in removing investment conditions and procedures that no longer fit the current situation.

Thanks to the Party and the state’s guidance, the application of these measures, and high commitment from all stakeholders, the MoET trust that there will be strong leaps ahead in foreign investment attraction in education in the forthcoming years, propelling the development of Vietnamese education.

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